April 1, 2011

Is Your Child Afraid of Monsters?

At some point most children will have a fear of monsters. It might be a fear of the dark or that there's a monster in their closet or under their bed.

As a parent it's tempting to dismiss your child's fear by saying "There's no such thing as monsters." That approach usually doesn't alleviate their fear. Young children have magical thinking which gets fused with their perception of reality. To them monsters are very real.

Here are some strategies to help manage the fear.

Monster Spray: Buy an inexpensive can of air freshener. A lavender scent would be a good choice as it has a calming effect. Put a label on the can that says, "GO AWAY MONSTER!” Spray it in your child's room as part of their bedtime routine.
Doorknob Sign: Write "NO MONSTERS" on a piece of cardboard, punch holes in the top corners, add a twelve inch length of string and hang it on your child's bedroom doorknob.
Books: There are some wonderful books that you can read with your child. I recommend Glad Monster, Sad Monster and Go Away Big Green Monster both by Ed Emberley. The monsters are presented in fun and silly ways which makes them less scary. Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are finds Max on an adventure with monsters where he is in charge of telling what to do. Encourage your child to do the same.
Drawing: Suggest your child draw or paint a picture of what the monster looks like. Have them add a funny hat or clothes and soon the monster looks silly instead of scary. Older children can write a book about their monster. When the child is in control of the storyline it gives him a feeling of power over the monster and lessens anxiety.

A fear of monsters will probably make an appearance in your home. Approach that fear calmly and reassuringly and your child will feel safe and secure.

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